Spray Paint Aquatint

Paths VI

I stopped by the print shop today to pick up the proofs that I had printed the other day. Having printed these proofs in somewhat of a flurry the other day, it was nice to pick them up and take a closer look.

What I was surprised was how I managed to get the spray paint to create a very fine grain aquatint. One of the reasons I like the spray paint aquatint is that the results are often coarser and more varied than what you would get with an aquatint achieved with rosin. The other reason is a practical one; spray paint aquatint is very fast compared to an aquatint box, and now that I’ve been doing it for a while I can spray paint my plate with almost perfect results every time. In these recent prints, the aquatint is so fine in some areas that it actually resembles rosin. I did have one zinc plate which open bit in many areas where the aquatint wasn’t sufficiently covering the plate, but I have to say that I was pleased with the results, even if they weren’t what was initially planned.

The other effect which I was feeling unsure about the other day was how accurately the sugarlift worked. In many areas, the sugarlift was extremely faithful to the original ink drawing, picking up every spot and texture created by the greasiness of the plate.

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6 thoughts on “Spray Paint Aquatint

  1. I have made some aquatints using the liquid wax hard ground sprayed through an air brush. I would like to try the spray paint method. What spray paint works best and what solvent do you use to get it off the plate?

  2. I used black Krylon brand spray paint which worked well. The most important thing about doing aquatint with spray paint is that you use a can that has been recently opened. If you use a spray paint can that is almost empty, the spray will come out very unevenly and won’t achieve a fine enough grain to allow for detail in your print.

    I would also recommend practicing on sheets of scrap paper first, as it does take some getting used to in order to achieve a fine and consistent grain. When I spray the plate, I always place a piece of paper behind it, which helps me see if the grain is consistent as sometimes this is tough to see on the copper plate. Also, if you’re doing this outdoors (which you should for health reasons) don’t do it when it’s windy outside, as that will interfere with the spray paint being consistent.

    As for solvent, I found in my experience that it wasn’t necessary to remove the spray paint. The spray paint dots are so tiny and fine that I found it really didn’t interfere in the printing process. If you need to remove the spray paint, you can ask the people at a hardware store for the solvent, they will know what to buy. (I’ve bought it in the past, but I don’t remember the exact name)

    • Hi
      I have been experimenting with Krylon as aquatint for a while with mixed results on zinc, etching in copper sulphate. Can you suggest timings, spray coverage and repeats to achieve a rich black. I have tended to open bite for two mins to remove all shiny surface then spray and etch and spray and etch to build up more dots and lessen exposed area. Any advice.

      • Steve,
        I’ve never used copper sulphate before, but you shouldn’t have to repeat spraying/etching to achieve a rich black. When I’ve used ferric chloride with copper plates, I sprayed the plate one time and bit the plate for 1 hour.

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